Catena explores beyond MendozaBy Gabriel Stone
Catena Zapata is looking beyond its Mendoza roots with the launch of a new brand that celebrates other wine producing regions of Argentina.
Called Pasarisa, a word made up from the first two letters of Patagonia, Salta and La Rioja, then finishing with the initials of South America, the new range sees Catena work with growers in these far flung regions to highlight their varied history, culture and wine styles.
From the cool, windy, region of Patagonia comes a Merlot and Pinot Noir, the most widely planted grapes in this remote southerly area after Argentina’s signature Malbec.
In the iron-rich soils of La Rioja, a province famous for its early 19th century federalist warlord Facundo Quiroga and whose local cuisine features a lot of lamb, the producer has created a “meaty” Syrah.
Meanwhile from the high altitude region of Salta comes the only white of the range, a Torrontés, as well as a Cabernet Sauvignon, which boasts plantings here from as far back as the mid-19th century.
“The reason we chose these varieties for Pasarisa was because we felt they were very typical of the place and interesting,” explained Laura Catena of Catena Zapata as she launched the wines in the UK. “We didn’t want to just do the same as we were doing in Mendoza.”
She positioned this new range as “part of our vision for the future”, highlighting the work of the Catena Institute, which carries out and shares with the wider industry its extensive research designed to improve Argentina’s viticultural and vinification practices.
Pointing to the relative economic prosperity that the wine business has brought to Mendoza, Catena expressed a desire to help other, poorer regions to enjoy the same success. “Places like La Rioja and Salta have a lot of poverty,” she remarked. “This project is about finding really special locations outside Mendoza and we are asking ‘Are there varieties outside Malbec that can do really well?’”
Featuring hand-sketched, colonial style labels designed by Stranger & Stranger, which aim to highlight aspects of Argentina’s historical and cultural heritage, the Pasarisa range is available in the UK through Bibendum PLB and will be targeted at the on-trade and independent retail sectors.
A sister label, Altaland, featuring the same region and grape combinations, will be made available to multiple retailers, with an initial listing through Waitrose Cellar from the end of this month, although the RRP is yet to be finalised.
Introducing the new collection, Michael Saunders, CEO of the Bibendum PLB Group said: “The Pasarisa and Altaland wines are truly remarkable and the reception they have received from the people who have tasted them so far has been incredibly positive.”
Noting his company’s involvement in the conception and development of the range, he commented: “Laura Catena’s expertise and passion have resulted in exceptional wines that will pave the way for regional Argentina all over the world.”